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Chile Market Opens for US Live Lobsters

CHILE - In September 2012 the Chilean Fisheries Agency (SERNAPESCA) officially cleared off on import requirements for US live lobsters. Given the current exchange rate between the US dollar and the strong Chilean peso, which continues to favour US sales, and the US-Chile Free trade Agreement which gives the US zero tariff on seafood, this market access opening offers an opportunity for US lobster sales in Chile.

Chilean Import Requirements for US Lobsters:

  • The Chilean importer must request an import permit from the Subsecretaria de Pesca; contact points are Eugenio Zamorano (ezamorano@subpesca.cl) or Alejandro Barrientos (abarrientos@subpesca.cl)
  • Meanwhile, the US exporter can prepare the shipment. Each shipment must be accompanied by a sanitary certificate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with the following declaration:

These live lobsters have been inspected by the competent authority of the United States within 72 hours prior to export and show no clinical sign of disease, especially White Spot Disease.

The clawless lobster of the Juan Fernandez Islands, located off Chiles southern coast, is the primary lobster species consumed in Chile. In 2011, Chile exported $3,926,471 of this crustacean.

About ten per cent of Chilean lobsters are consumed domestically, primarily in restaurants. Chileans do not have a tradition of cooking lobsters at home. Prices for a half lobster (about a pound) fall between $30-$45, while a whole, two-pound lobster can retail for up to $80 at a seafood restaurant.

The local lobster fishing season runs from October to May (spring, summer and fall in the southern hemisphere). This time-frame covers the period of greatest demand when Chileans celebrate Christmas and New Years by eating lobster at the beach.

Despite the global economic recession, Chile has demonstrated its ability to maintain a growth perspective through its solid fundamentals, in particular, its fiscal solvency. Based on market growth rate and the overall US competitive position in the market, US lobster exporters could find a reliable and lucrative market in Chile.

Lucy Towers

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